Enjoy the Best of Dude Ranches in Winter

Even if it’s cold outside, you still have plenty of reasons to chose spending your vacation or weekend getaway at one of the best dude ranches. What can you do during winter at a ranch? Well, you won’t believe just how many amazing options are offered by dude ranches. They are prepared to receive guests throughout the year and offer them more than just outstanding accommodation options. So, even if temperatures are low, you can still enjoy an unforgettable vacation.

Vista-Verde-Skiing-dude ranches

Vista Verde Ranch - Colorado

Interested in finding out what the dude ranches have to offer? You will be surprised to see that you’ll have a varied offer of options when it comes to entertainment and exciting activities. Of course, the activities will depend based on the dude ranch you will choose. So, it is worth checking the offer of several dude ranches, making sure that your final offer will give you precisely the kind of vacation you are looking to enjoy. But, most of them offer the advantages listed below.

Exciting winter sports

Dude ranches are the ideal venues for winter sports enthusiasts, as they offer a wide range of outdoor activities that allow you to enjoy both the gorgeous winter scenery and powdery snow. Whether you like skiing, snowmobiling, sledding, cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing, everything can be enjoyed at dude ranches. You can even opt for horseback riding and admire the landscape in a more relaxed and pleasant manner.

Lone-Mountain-Ski-and-Horse-Snow dude ranches

Lone Mountain Ranch - Montana

Off-season deals

By simply choosing to enjoy your vacation after the winter holidays ended, you will end up saving a lot on your vacation. So, once you chose your preferred ranch and would like to book a vacation, make sure to ask for special offers first. You may find out when it’s the best time to visit in order to enjoy outstanding prices.

Warm rooms waiting for you

After spending hours outside, enjoying all kinds of fun activities, most certainly you will want to return to a place where it’s warm and comfortable. All the rooms and cabins offered by dude ranches are made to offer the highest degree of coziness. So, get ready to enjoy a warm fire and a cup of hot chocolate after your outdoor adventures.

Vee-Bar-Winter-Snow-Cabin dude ranches

Vee Bar Guest Ranch - Wyoming

Your vacation will be calmer and more relaxing

The best part about taking a winter vacation, especially during the off-season, is the low number of visitors. In other words, the ranches will be quieter and you’ll have the chance to enjoy a truly relaxing vacation in the absence of crowds of visitors.

 

Which dude ranches are best to visit during winter? If you need help in making your selection, it is then worth taking a look at the ranches listed below. Any dude ranch you will choose, most certainly you will not be disappointed.

Wyoming Dude Ranches

For ski enthusiasts, the Vee Bar Guest Ranch in Wyoming is one of the best choices you can make. The ranch offers both exceptional lodging and the possibility to enjoy skiing in the Snowy Range Ski Area. Accommodation includes homemade breakfasts every morning and outdoor hot tubs for soothing your body after skiing. Even if you don’t ski, you can still come here and enjoy the games and entertainment offered by the John Wayne Saloon.

Vee-Bar-Winter dude ranches

Vee Bar Guest Ranch - Wyoming

Idaho Dude Ranches

The Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, located in Idaho, is great for those that wish to enjoy winter sports in a spectacular background. Once you’re done skiing or snowboarding for the day, a fire-warmed cabin is waiting for your return. Of course, you can also enjoy snowmobiling, a romantic stroll in a sled pulled by horses, cross-country skiing, biking with a fat-tire bicycle, and spa services. It is entirely up to you how you decide to spend your day.

Western-Pleasure-Sleigh-Ride-Snow-2 dude ranches

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch - Idaho

Colorado Dude Ranches

There are so many things you can enjoy at the Vista Verde Guest Ranch in Colorado that it is impossible not to enjoy a gorgeous winter vacation over here. From winter and outdoor activities for the most adventurous to yoga, massages, and cooking classes for those that want to spend more time indoors. There are even special activities for children, so families are more than welcome to the ranch, as there’s something to do for each member of the family.

Another great ranch in Colorado is the Latigo Ranch. If you come here, you will be able to enjoy cross-country skiing on trails that were perfectly groomed and prepared for you. Fat-biking is another outdoor activity available here. The thing is that there’s something to be enjoyed by the entire family. There is snow tubing and sledding for the young ones, and snowshoeing and hot tubs for the grown-ups, or indoor games for everyone.

Latigo-Ranch-Skiing dude ranches

Latigo Ranch - Colorado

Montana Dude Ranches

The Lone Mountain Ranch in Montana received the Unique Lodges in the World distinction from National Geographic. This is due to its gorgeous position in the proximity of the Montana Rockies. During winter, you can ski here or even enjoy fly-fishing, an activity that is available at the ranch throughout the year. Horseback riding, sleds pulled by horses, country-cross skiing, and warm cabins are additional advantages of visiting this particular ranch.

There is another ranch in Montana that is worth taking into account. Rich’s Montana Guest Ranch also offers a wide range of opportunities during winter, besides excellent accommodation at a cozy ranch. Snowmobiling, trekking on gorgeous trails, and the possibility to spot the wildlife are among the things you can enjoy at this ranch.

Rich-Ranch-under-a-winter-blanket-of-snow dude ranches

Rich's Montana Guest Ranch - Montana

As a conclusion, it is worth mentioning that the members of the Dude Ranchers’ Association enjoy the support of an entire community revolving about hospitality provided by genuine ranches. So, if you want high-quality services, you can be sure that you’ll find it at a ranch that is a member of this association. The association keeps its members informed about the latest trends and requirements in the industry so that the guests of these ranches will enjoy the best there is. A vacation at any of the dude ranches available in the US will definitely turn into an exciting and unforgettable experience. Try it once and most certainly you will want to return.

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Even if it’s cold outside, you still have plenty of reasons to chose spending your vacation or weekend getaway at one of the best dude ranches in the West!

 

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Experience the Real Old West at a Working Cattle Dude Ranch

Have you ever dreamt about riding across the plains or through the desert pushing cattle, hootin’ and a hollerin’ from the back of a horse? At a working cattle dude ranch, you will get to experience what the real west used to be and how “the real cowboys” used to live. You may just do some day work around the ranch, moving a herd of cattle from one pasture to another, or you may have the choice to go on an overnight cattle drive. You could camp out under the stars, if you so please, or sleep in a wall tent, tell stories around the campfire and eat meals cooked over an open fire. 

It sounds like a fantasy doesn’t it? At these 10 dude ranches listed below, as well as others listed on the Dude Ranchers’ Association website, you will find a true cowboy and western lifestyle experience. Check several things off your bucket list at one time with a working cattle dude ranch vacation! 

Working Cattle Dude Ranch Vacation

Working Cattle Dude Ranch

Vee Bar Guest Ranch - Laramie, WY

Hidden Hollow Hideaway Cattle and Guest Ranch – Montana

Looking for an unplugged and refreshing vacation with a little excitement added in? Hidden Hollow Hideaway might just be your perfect destination. Ride through luscious green meadows while moving cattle, all while taking in the breathtaking scenery of the Rocky Mountains which surround you. The folks at Hidden Hollow Hideaway will make sure you are equipped with the right horse and tack to make your experience is the best it can be! While here, you will be able to improve your riding and horsemanship skills, improve your confidence and help the cowboys and cowgirls of the ranch move the cattle to new pastures. You do not need to have previous riding experience before coming to the ranch, just a willing attitude!

V6 Ranch – California 

When most people think of California they think of sunny beaches, board walks and surfing. When you visit the V6 Ranch in Parkfield, California you will have a whole different outlook on California. On a cattle drive with the folks at V6 you will experience an adventure that will awaken your spirit and bring you back to the beauty of the untamed west. The V6 Ranch has four cattle drives scheduled each year that allow guests to go on an overnight trip. Their schedule for each trip is all laid out on their website and offers great detail. This is not an adventure you want to miss out on! You will help gather and move the ranch’s herd of cattle from many locations and will have the opportunity to work with real cowboys who can teach you working knowledge of gathering, moving and sorting cattle. While on a cattle drive you will also be able to increase and improve your horseback riding skills and techniques. If you are looking for a true cowboy and western adventure, look no further than the V6 Ranch. 

Working Cattle Dude Ranch

V6 Ranch - Parkfield, CA

Sweet Grass Ranch – Montana

The Sweet Grass Ranch in Montana is a fantastic destination to satisfy your “inner cowboy and cowgirl.” Although the ranch does not move cattle every week, they do have specific weeks during their season that they have cattle drives as well as other cowboy work available for guests to participate in. Make sure to talk to the folks at the ranch well in advance to make sure that your stay will include cattle work, and if you are looking for an overnight cattle drive they have an option for that to! The overnight cattle drive usually takes place at the last week of July into the first week of August. Guests are encouraged to verify specific dates for cattle work and the overnight cattle drive when booking their vacation. You don’t want to miss out on these great experiences! 

Vee Bar Guest Ranch – Wyoming

At the Vee Bar Guest Ranch in Wyoming cattle work is a highlight of the week! While horseback riding, fly fishing and the kids’ program are loads of fun, guests really look forward to getting to live the true cowboy lifestyle, even if it is just for a day. While working cattle at the Vee Bar you will get to help the wranglers move cattle from one pasture to another, learn how to help sort off certain cattle as well as doctor any sick cattle. All of the horseback riding and cattle work at the Vee Bar Guest Ranch is adaptable to all levels of experience. You do not have to be an expert rider before you arrive at the ranch; if you think about, cowboys had to be beginner riders before they could become experts! 

Burnt Well Guest Ranch – New Mexico 

An authentic “old west” style cattle drive is what you will find at the Burnt Well Guest Ranch in New Mexico. Here you will experience what it was like to live on prairie and in the desert while moving cattle and putting many miles in the saddle. This cattle drive is the duration of a week and happens once a year in the fall. The ranch will supply you with a bedroll, cot, cowboy teepee, horse and tack. All you need to bring is a go-getter attitude, a smile and probably some clothes! Stories, memories and bucket list items are created on this cattle drive and if it is something you have always wanted to do, do not miss your chance! If you are not up for a week-long cattle drive, Burnt Well also has cattle working opportunities included in their all-inclusive packages. Relax at the ranch and enjoy family time while getting to do the several activities available. Work with real cowboys and learn the ways of the west at the Burnt Well Guest Ranch! 

Working Cattle Dude Ranch

Burnt Well Guest Ranch - Roswell, NM

Red Reflet Guest Ranch – Wyoming

Where there is cow work to be done, guests are welcome to “cowboy” the herd at the Red Reflet Ranch! At this beautiful luxury working cattle dude ranch you will find pristine lodging, Le Cordon Bleu cuisine made from a farm to table program and numerous exhilarating activities to participate in. There are many cattle activities to enjoy, moving the herd with the wranglers, branding and gathering opportunities, checking in on newborn baby calves, sorting cattle and pairing them up as needed. Here, you will get to see what a true working cattle ranch is like and be able to help the on-site cowboys with their herd management duties. The cowboys are a wealth of knowledge and are so willing to teach guests who are willing to learn! 

Bull Hill Guest Ranch – Washington

Cowboys and cowgirls will have the opportunity to participate in authentic cattle drives at the Bull Hill Guest Ranch. The cattle drives can range from a half day to a full day in the saddle and they usually take place between the months of May and October. During these months’ guests will have the chance to move cattle to spring grass areas, upper pastures for the summer and in the early fall months they are driven back to the ranch. You do not have to be a cattle expert to go on one of these cattle drives at Bull Hill, but confidence is key! Beautiful scenery, great horses and lots of fun await you on a cattle drive! 

Working Cattle Dude Ranch

Working Cattle Dude Ranch

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bull Hill Guest Ranch - Kettle Falls, WA

Focus Ranch – Wyoming

At the Focus Ranch, located on the Wyoming and Colorado border, guests are invited to participate in the day-to-day operations of the ranch. Although the ranch does have other activities such as fly fishing, hiking and photography opportunities, the main focus of the ranch is horseback riding and cattle. Taking care of their horses and cattle is their main priority and the folks at the ranch truly enjoy getting to teach people and watch them learn the ways of the “real west.” There is an art to working cattle and at the Focus Ranch you will learn the ropes and get to put your skills to the test. This is the real deal! 

Bonanza Creek Guest Ranch – Montana

There are many reasons to visit Bonanza Creek Guest Ranch but great riding, trustworthy ranch horses and the thrill of moving cattle are on the top of most people’s lists! While at the ranch you will get to see beautiful mountain scenery, climb the high ridges, ride along Bonanza Creek, lope through open meadows and gather up a herd of cow/calf pairs to move from pasture to pasture. Bonanza Creek is a true working cattle ranch, the cattle along with their guests is their way of life. They value the guests who come in eager and excited to learn about the cattle ranch life and the ways of the cowboy. You will experience other activities as well as great lodging and home cooked meals. Become a Montana cowboy or cowgirl for a week at this wonderful ranch! 

Working Cattle Dude Ranch

Working Cattle Dude Ranch

 

Bonanza Creek Guest Ranch - Martinsdale, MT

Klondike Ranch – Wyoming

At the Klondike Ranch you will have the option of how much of a guest you want to be. What does that mean exactly? You can relax and let the crew at the ranch take care of you or you can dive into the hands-on work of a cattle ranch! By the time you leave the ranch you might just be the “handiest” person in your group. At Klondike you will get to enjoy great horseback rides and herd cattle, participate in the ranch hand chores if you please or even go on an overnight camp out at the ranch’s Mountain Cow Camp. You will feel like a true cowboy or cowgirl after spending a vacation at the Klondike Ranch and get to tell all of your friends, co-workers and family that you go the chance to work alongside real Wyoming cowboys!

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Have you ever dreamt about riding across the plains or through the desert pushing cattle, hootin’ and a hollerin’ from the back of a horse? At a working cattle dude ranch, you will get to experience what the real west used to be and how “the real cowboys” used to live.

 

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5 Reasons to Go on a Winter Dude Ranch Vacation

With winter just around the corner now is the prime time to plan your snowy getaway on a dude ranch. If you are unsure about a winter dude ranch vacation here are five reasons (and five great ranches) why this may be the best time for you to go.


1. Winter Sports


Winter snow sports offer some of the most beautiful and pristine views of the mountains. Ranches will offer a variety of activities you can participate in - cross country skiing, downhill skiing, show shoeing, sledding, snow mobiling, and yes, even horseback riding!

 

Seven Devils Winter Dude Ranch Vacation

At the Seven Devil’s Lodge in Idaho you can experience miles and miles of backcountry, very far from the nearest road. They offer guided snow mobile tours on terrain for beginners and for those who are more advanced. The Lodge will even provide an entry level to intermediate snowmobile riding clinic! With 5,500 square feet the lodge has five spacious bedroom suites and a maximum capacity of eight. You’ll have a personalized winter dude ranch vacation at the Seven Devils Lodge, where outdoor winter sports are their specialty.


2. Seasonal Deals


Winter travel can mean seasonal deals. Whenever you are booking be sure to ask about special winter deals. After the holidays, during the off season you could potential save a lot of money.

 

 Vee Bar Ranch Lodge Winter Snow

At the Vee Bar Guest Ranch in Wyoming you’ll receive these seasonal deals during their off season. The nightly rate less expensive than the summer rates and you can choose a package deal with the local ski hill. The cozy, comfortable cabins have decks and chairs right next to the Little Laramie River just outside your room. You’ll enjoy horseback riding, hiking/snow shoe excursions and a wagon ride through the Vee Bar Meadows at this winter dude ranch.


3. Cozy Lodge Rooms and Cabins


After a long day in the snow, bundled up in winter gear what is cozier than a cabin with a fire going and a cup of hot chocolate? You’ll be surrounded by western décor and top of the line furnishings to boot!

 

Home Sledding


Join the Home Ranch in Colorado this season and revel in exquisite holiday dining and festivities or just relax and watch the snow fall from the comfort of our lodge or your own snug cabin. Walk out your front door and enjoy almost every winter activity imaginable at this winter dude ranch: 20 miles of Nordic skiing, sledding, tubing, snowshoeing, sleigh rides. It's a perfect holiday setting for every taste and generation.


4. Wine & Dine


With short days you’ll enjoy long evenings indoors with fine wine and fine dining.

 

Triangle X Ranch Winter Dude Ranch Vacation Starts in the Hot Tub


You’ll really enjoy Triangle X Ranch’s four star dining set with the back drop of the snow covered Teton Mountains. This authentic working dude ranch offers cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, photography and wildlife viewing right out your front door. After a full day, return to the comfortable lodge and relax western style with a warm fire and a large outdoor Jacuzzi.

5. Less Crowds


While low temperatures and lots of snow deter lots of travelers, this works in your favor when traveling in the colder months, as you’ll spend less on flights and travel expenses.

 

Bar W Sleigh Ride Snow
Experience the winter season and beauty of the great outdoors from the comfort of a sleigh at the Bar W Guest Ranch in Montana. Enjoy the magic of a sleigh drawn by gentle draft horses while snuggling up under blankets with loved ones. This is perfect for that romantic getaway or just spending time with family and friends. Each sleigh ride winds through open fields and woodlands, giving you the chance to take in the beauty of the land. The Bar W is located at the base of Spencer Mountain providing an optimal view of snow covered ridges, Spencer Lake, and Montana’s expansive beauty.  Not only that, this winter dude ranch is close to all sorts of snow sport providers.

 

More about a Winter Dude Ranch Vacation

Read more about winter dude ranch vacations options here. Be sure to pin the below as a reminder!

 

5 Reasons for a Winter Dude Ranch Vacation

 

 

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10 Great Dude Ranch Vacations for Families

From the littlest to the biggest kid, everyone will get a chance to play. The Dude Ranchers’ Association has only the best of ranch experiences offering phenomenal kids programs, healthy food, horseback riding and more outdoor adventures than you can imagine. Here are 10 of North America’s best family ranch vacations on dude and guest ranches. Each has its own unique style and offerings allowing you to pick the right ranch for your family vacation. All are family friendly ranches and have a full schedule of activities for your family.

 


Wyoming Family Ranch Vacations


The Red Rock Ranch, Kelly, Wyoming

Dates Open: June through September

The Red Rock Ranch is a family owned authentic western dude ranch with polished amenities. Children will love the freedom of just being kids in the wide open spaces of Wyoming. There is no TV or video games, but they will be busy with horseback riding, caring for their own specially chosen horses, volleyball, pickleball, horseshoes and the kid’s recreation room. There is something special about swimming in a heated pool surrounded by the beautiful red cliffs, playing tag with new friends or simply enjoying a game of foosball or ping pong.

Vee Bar Guest Ranch, Laramie, Wyoming

Dates Open: Year-round

At just 2 ½ hours from Denver, Colorado the Vee Bar Ranch is very easily accessible, but still a remote dude ranch family destination. Children of all ages are welcomed with open arms.  While the outdoors provides a great deal of education and entertainment, there are other activities in which kids can partake.  On campout night, everybody is welcome to participate in campfire games, listen to live music, roast s’mores, and enjoy the Vee Bar’s version of a branding—don’t forget your boots, belts, wallets, and hats! Your kids will never forget their experience on this kid friendly dude ranch!

7D Ranch, Cody, Wyoming

Dates Open: mid June through mid September

Offering weekly trips into Yellowstone National Park, the 7D Ranch has a kids program geared for kids 3 - 12 years old, but kids of all ages enjoy participating in the activities. Their children’s program allows young people to experience ranch life and come to understand the connections to the natural world. Ecological relationships are taught by example on daily hikes and rides. Children are introduced to the world of livestock and horses by patient wranglers who take great care to build kids’ confidence.

Vee Bar Wyoming Family Ranch Vacations

Imagine your teenager connecting with her own personal horse for the week. Photo Credit: Vee Bar Guest Ranch


Arizona Family Ranch Vacations


Circle Z Ranch, Patagonia, Arizona

Dates Open: Mid October through April

How often do we long for the days of giving our children the gift of nature, in a safe and healthy environment, where the electronics are shelved and our kids are happy and laughing, making new friends? The Circle Z cherishes the adventures that families will experience, either together or separately. Here, the kids are allowed the freedom to be kids without pressures, and given adventures that will expand their confidence and fill their hearts. A dude ranch vacation will not just entertain your children, it will change their lives.


Elkhorn Ranch, Tucson, Arizona

Dates Open: Mid November through April

Just 50 miles southwest of Tucson the Elkhorn Ranch is a sunny winter destination for your family. Children of all ages are welcome. Guest ranch life provides an ideal setting for family vacations and reunions. Families ride together or separately as rides are set up daily to suit individual interests. Children enjoy the freedom to play outdoors and an ample supply of board games and puzzles available in the dining room. Ping-pong, shuffleboard, tennis and basketball and a heated swimming pool add to the fun.

 

Elkhorn Ranch Family Ranch Vacations

From the littlest to the biggest kid, everyone will get a chance to play. Photo: Elkhorn Ranch Arizona


Colorado Family Ranch Vacations


Sundance Trail Guest Ranch, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado

Dates Open: Year-round

At Sundance Trail Guest Ranch families are encouraged to play together and to make memories together. At different times during the week, kids may opt to participate in Colorado dude ranch activities with their families or join in with counselor-wranglers for their own special activities: “kids only” horseback riding in the arena or small group trail rides, gathering eggs from the hen house, playing with the ever-present kittens and goats, group hikes & rock climbing, fishing, picnics & campfire sing-alongs, outdoor games, & treasure hunts, movies & crafts.


Black Mountain Ranch, McCoy, Colorado

Dates Open: June through mid September

You won’t forget a family ranch vacation at the Black Mountain Ranch. Unlimited horseback riding, over night pack trips, a Longhorn cattle drive, white water rafting, fishing, kids' program, rifle and trap shooting, archery and trip to the local rodeo is just the start. Whether you are looking for some easy trails to ride with your kids or advanced riding for the entire family, there are great options for everyone in the family.


Tumbling River Ranch, Grant, Colorado

Dates Open: Mid May through mid November

At Tumbling River Ranch, the summer kids program is a major focus.  They not only focus on the interests of the children, but relish the opportunity to introduce them to the Western lifestyle and Western ideas–offering the rare opportunity to “unplug” and spend some quality time. The kids will have a flexible program, built both to allow families ample time together and kids to have plenty of their own adventures.


Cherokee Park Ranch, Livermore, Colorado

Dates Open: June through August

The Cherokee Park Ranch is a family owned dude ranch nestled in the beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountains. They cater to families with kids of all ages, horseback riding, river rafting, rodeos, fishing, music, dancing, cow wrangling, swimming, ropes/challenge course, skeet shooting and mountain biking. Your kids will have a full day’s worth of counseled activities should parents desire “time off!” For young ones under two, this family ranch offers a unique opportunity: bring your own full-time baby-sitter, free of charge.

 

Tumbling River Creek Crossing Family Ranch Vacations

Ride out into the mountains with the whole family. Photo Credit: Tumbling River Ranch


Montana Family Ranch Vacations


JJJ Wilderness Ranch, Augusta, Montana

Dates Open: Mid June through September


The Triple J Ranch offers an extensive Children and Teen Program. Each child will have their own horse for the week to learn horsemanship skills with dedicated kids wranglers. Children are not required to engage in any activity, but activities are available should parents desire a little freedom to participate in more scenic and challenging rides. This family ranch can keep even the most restless little cowboy or cowgirl busy. They’ll have loads of fun and they’ll talk about it ... seemingly forever!


 JJJ Wilderness Family Ranch Vacations

 The ranch wranglers will even teach your kids rodeo events! Photo Credit: JJJ Wilderness Ranch

Other great vacations for toddlers

 

Are you planning your next family ranch vacation? Offering phenomenal kids programs, healthy food and outdoor adventures including horseback riding here are 10 of North America’s best family ranch vacations on dude and guest ranches

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Family Travel and Dude Ranches

One of the most meaningful comments we’ve read about family travel and dude ranches is this: Dude ranches reconnect adults to a simple and innocent part of their childhood and introduce their children to these same experiences.

Western Pleasure Ranch Family Travel Destination

At dude ranches, everyone can discover magic. Photo courtesy of Western Pleasure Guest Ranch

There’s something uplifting and joyful about that. Like when parents momentarily forget themselves and regress with their kids – revisiting beloved animated cartoons from their youth, or unabashedly belting out favorite ballads from bygone (to their kids) times. Now picture horses and corrals, Stetson hats and western boots, cookouts and wide open landscapes straight out of cowboy movies and novels. Your heart goes pitter-patter, just a little bit. Or a lot. Because in today’s era of quick-paced modernization, invasive technology and growing detachment from nature (and one another), the ranch appeal is arguably more potent — for all generations — than ever before. “Perhaps it is the allure of the Western lifestyle that people long to experience. Perhaps it is the adventure that draws guests to a ranch in the first place. Most likely, it’s a combination,” believes Kari Kilmer, Manager of Vee Bar Guest Ranch. Perhaps. Whatever the case, when on a dude ranch, “The feelings that awaken inside of you are something that most people never imagine. It’s the magic!” agrees Tammy Yurich, Activities Director of Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch.

Latigo Ranch Family Travel Destination

Living in a dream. Photo courtesy of Latigo Ranch

Exploring the Magic “Dude ranches are a perfect fit for family travel simply because the dynamic shifts,” suggests Ashley Ducharme, Marketing Coordinator of Bar W Guest Ranch. “Everyone within the family is on an authentic adventure because everyone is trying new things (archery, horseback riding, square dancing, skeet shooting and more). This equalizes the parents and the children and fosters open communication. The kids say ‘Do you know what we did today?’ and the parents respond ‘Well do you know what we did today?’” That level playing field wasn’t created by accident. It has taken a lot of work and requires diligent vigilance to maintain. All the more so as it’s increasingly difficult to find other family-focused vacation experiences that so consistently “bring families together naturally,” as Kerstin Auer, Marketing & Sales of Echo Valley Ranch & Spa, sees it, all by placing careful and balanced emphasis on providing “unique adventures and educational experiences that the whole family will enjoy,” says Janice Schoonover, Owner of Western Pleasure Guest Ranch. Over the years, plenty of visitors have predictably compared their dude ranch adventures with the famous magic of other standard-bearing activity providers like Disney. How do dude ranches stand up? Incredibly well! “When you come to a dude ranch, the only lines you’ll find are the strings of horses and riders on the mountain trails. Every moment with your family will be spent finding real adventures, not being herded through fabricated ones. Without crowds of people to fight against, the buzz of this modern world will fade into serenity and wildness,” says Spencer George, son of the owners of Latigo Ranch.

Geronimo Trail Ranch Family Travel Destination

A Chance to slow down and get in touch with natures. Photo courtesy of Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch

Take Things a Little Slower There really is a lot to be said for excitement without overstimulation, and activation without commercialization. “Dude ranches give families… a place to slow down from the fast pace of daily life and reconnect with each other,” observes Meris Stout, Owner of Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch. There are two important elements to this. First, “Free of television, phone calls, texts and push notifications, family members can discover the magic that has captivated ranch guests for a hundred years,” enthuses RC Townsend, Assistant General Manager of Mountain Sky Guest Ranch. Second, “Learning together through nature and animals is a powerful thing for families to share,” says Tyler Beckley, Owner of Three Bars Guest Ranch. Of course, a readiness to make family time together just that much more engaging is stoked by freedom from one another during part of each day. This is aided by the safe environment dude ranches work to create, allowing parents to relax while their kids do their own things. “Kids have freedoms on a dude ranch that most cannot experience in today’s world,” says Jeanne Ross, General Manager of Colorado Trails Guest Ranch. Doug Cole, Owner of Marble Mountain Guest Ranch concurs: “Once you arrive at a dude ranch, you are by default in a more secure environment that has a known and fixed population during the time of your stay. Kids are more enabled to ‘free range.’”

R Lazy S Ranch Family Travel

Photo courtesy of R Lazy S Ranch

Step into the Dude Ranch Mindset Predictably, “A dude ranch offers so much… by providing very unique opportunities,” says Kelly Stirn, Owner of R Lazy S Ranch. So let’s explore some them. Keep in mind, however, that “The hardest vacation to describe is one based on an experience. For those of us that live this wonderful, rewarding, down-to-earth lifestyle, it is hard to tell a family on the phone what a wonderful time they will have,” advises Kilmer of Vee Bar Guest Ranch. “They simply have to take our word for it, then try it for themselves.” Let’s do that. Let’s put ourselves briefly in dude ranchers’ shoes by reading their words and imagining how amazing a dude ranch holiday can be. Then let’s all go try it out ourselves, remembering that, as Doug Van Berkum, Owner of Rainbow Trout Ranch likes to point out, “There truly is something for EVERYONE!” To read the extended quotes from the ranchers visit the blog post here. This blog was originally written by the Family Travel Association. Visit them on the web here. Save Save Save Save Save Save

Ride for the Adventure

Would you like to ride out on the open prairie shoulder to shoulder with your family?  If so there are great ranches who offer advanced horseback riding opportunities as the terrain permits. At the member ranches of the Dude Ranchers' Association safety is always first.  Trail guides are knowledgeable of horsemanship and teaching basic riding skills.  So take off on your next vacation and enjoy some advanced riding at a dude ranch. You are sure you would like some riding in the West, but maybe, not so sure about selecting the right ranch with the right personalities for your travels. No worries, the ranches listed below are carefully selected to provide you with the most adventure. They are listed by two separate categories, a working cattle ranch experience focusing on teaching you the ways of the cowboy and a traditional dude ranch experience focusing on trail riding and all sorts of other kinds of adventure. Once you have made it that far in your decision, further narrow in on your perfect match by looking at the terrain of the ranch, the time of year you are traveling and the scale of luxury you prefer.

 

Advanced Riding on a Working Cattle Ranch

Working cattle ranches would like guests to help them with their cattle work, so nose to tail  riding is discouraged while trailing a herd of 100+ cattle on a cattle drive.  You will find adventure around everyday cattle work well.

 

 

McGinnis Meadows Advanced Horseback Riding

McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch, Libby, Montana

McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch is an authentic working cattle ranch located in the northwest corner of Montana. Beginner riders to experienced leave here with more knowledge about horses, horsemanship, and cattle, than they've experienced anywhere else. With approximately 15 guests per week, we can better know you, work with you individually, and tailor each day to you.

 

 

Burnt Well Advanced Horseback Riding

Burnt Well Guest Ranch, Roswell, New Mexico

Burnt Well Guest Ranch is located in warm, sunny, southeastern New Mexico. Guests have said "This is John Wayne country!" Our riding is in open pasture unless you opt for a mountain trail ride for your day trip, with a 6 day package.

 

 

MCgarry Ranches advanced Horseback Riding

McGarry Ranches, Rexburg, Idaho

If you wish to experience the lifestyle of the American Cowboy with a legitimate cattle outfit, riding daily on an American Quarter Horse then here is what we are and what we offer. Upon arrival at the ranch you will be given the firm handshake or welcoming hug after which you will lose the guest handle and become one of the McGarry Ranches Family of Wranglers. In other words, just one of us.

 

Advanced Riding on a Traditional Ranch

 

Traditional style ranches are equipped to offer adventure for the whole family, whether that's advanced riding for the horse enthusiast or an all day fly fishing trip or a children's program with water activities. Visit these ranches' websites to see which one offers your families style.

 

Colorado Trails Advanced Horseback Riding

Colorado Trails Ranch, Durango, Colorado

Family fun abounds at Colorado Trails Ranch located in the beautiful San Juan Mountains just outside of historic Durango, Colorado. Rides are grouped by ability (and desire). The rides range from scenic walk rides to loping through trees and meadows.

 

 

Vee Bar Advanced Horseback Riding

Vee Bar Guest Ranch, Laramie, Wyoming

The Vee Bar located near Laramie, Wyoming just 2 1/2 hours north of Denver, Colorado is a world-reknown family guest and dude ranch with a relaxed atmosphere sure to feel like home to your entire family. You will find a variety of terrain to suit your entire group. Loping rides are offered and we can comfortably accommodate riders of ALL abilities.

 

 

 

Blacktail Adventure Ranch

Blacktail Ranch, Wolf Creek, Montana

The Blacktail Ranch is a Historic 8,000 acre jewel, located where the prairie meets the Rockies in Wolf Creek Montana. Sign up for our two night three day "Divide Ride" where we stay in our upper camp and then ride to the top of the Continental Divide where you will experience expansive views of the Majestic Rocky Mountains from every direction.

 

Would you like to ride out on the open prairie shoulder to shoulder?  If so there are great ranch vacations offering advanced horseback riding opportunities as the terrain permits all across the Western United States. Read about them here.

More Advanced Horseback Riding?

Have more questions?  Please reach out to the DRA office  where more than one hundred ranches are represented across the Western United States and Canada.

 

 

Live your Western Vacation Dream in Wyoming

Think all inclusive holidays are an invention of the big tour operators? Then think again. The Dude Ranch Association (DRA) has been leading the way for years. There is a broad spectrum of DRA-accredited guest ranches across North America, ranging from rustic, no-frills working ranches to luxury resort-style ranches. From valleys complete with untouched Rocky Mountain backdrops to desert sunsets across the Southwest, you can find DRA-accredited ranches throughout the Western US, as well as in California, Arkansas and Canada. If ever a state lends itself to this type of vacation, it's Wyoming.

This is where the Rocky Mountains meet the High Plains, true cowboy country, with few people and vast, open spaces. It is a land that inspires dreams of riding horseback across the plains and Wyoming luxury Dude Ranch vacations help guests realize that dream.

Yellowstone National Park

The bulk of Yellowstone National Park is in Northwest Wyoming and the Grand Loop Road provides a wonderful overview of the area, from the steaming geysers to majestic waterfalls and deep canyons. Hundreds of trails traverse the park, providing access to deep back-country areas, remote lakes, and scenic overlooks.

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park is also in Northwest Wyoming. The first glimpse of the jagged mountains that explode out of the Jackson Hole Valley have been known to take the breath away. Pristine lakes and grassland dot the valley floor and glaciers slide down steep rocky peaks from elevations of more than 12,000 feet.

Jump to eastern Wyoming and find Devil's Tower, a massive, monolithic volcanic neck that rises out of the Black Hills. Visitors circumnavigate the tower and try to spot some of the many climbers,  or play hide and seek with the prairie dogs that reside within the park boundaries.

Wyoming Dude Ranch vacations can be anything from rustic to luxurious, with guests spending all day in the saddle herding cattle, or soaking in a hot tub and enjoying a massage. Activities may range from angling to river rafting and hiking, or lounging on a porch with a book. ‘The Dude Ranchers’ Association takes great pride in all of our ranches and we are particularly fond of the adventures and warmth that guests can enjoy during the winter months at our Southwest ranches, says Colleen Hodson, executive director of the DRA. ‘These ranches offer a scenic escape from the bleak winter conditions many people are experiencing at this time of year and guarantee a vacation that is anything but ordinary.’

Check out these genuinely lovely Dude Ranch Locations of the Cowboy State...

7D Couple Trail

7D Ranch

The 7D Ranch is Wyoming's premier family guest ranch since 1958. Extensive trail riding in a pristine mountain setting. Fly-fishing with instruction. Supervised children's program. Western cuisine. Hiking from the ranch as well as in the Beartooth Mountains. A weekly trip into Yellowstone is offered.  

Heart Six Guest Ranch

Heart 6 Wedding Horseback

Heart Six Guest Ranch is located in Beautiful Jackson Hole Wyoming. With great views of the Grand Teton Mountains the scenery is second to none. Our main activity is horseback riding, but we have lots to offer guests of all ages - from very young to very young at heart!    

Lazy L&B Ranch

Lazy L&B Kid Moment

The Lazy L & B Ranch has a quality horse program for all ages and abilities with extensive riding through wildlife habitat, forest, river gorges and high desert in small groups. There's also great fishing, hiking, swimming (pool or river) and just hanging out.    

Vee Bar Guest Ranch

Vee Bar Cattle

The Vee Bar Ranch, located near Laramie Wyoming, is a family-friendly vacation destination that is sure to please the horse loving cowboy or cowgirl in you. A variety of activities, ranging from horseback riding to river tubing, will suit each member of your group. Experience true western hospitality here!  


 

What Ranch Adventure Will You Have This Summer?

Vee Bar Guest Ranch

A Funny Thing Happened On My Way to Getting Old By Laurie Hartman, Wrangler Hello from one of those folks usually a day late and a dollar short, a jack of many trades and master of few, a perpetual student of the School of Hard Knocks, a late bloomer. But better late than never, right? I’ve had lots of ideas over the years, some good and some bad, and half my life was over before I got the idea to apply to be a guest ranch wrangler. I can’t recall how or when or why the idea came to me, but once it got in my head it would not go away. I questioned my sanity. I was 53 years old, thirty pounds overweight and well, frumpy. Age will do that to you. At least that’s what I’d been telling myself, like when I bought bigger sweatpants and when I stopped fussing over grey roots. My chin was sagging and other body parts were on the road to saggville as well. One of my eyes got lazy. I got lazy. I quit mapping my barrel racing plans on the calendar, I quit hauling every weekend, I quit riding when I got home from work. I was one step away from granny panties and blue hair. Then another thought came to mind. It was one of my characteristic play-it-safe what if’s, but this one had a twist. What if I didn’t apply? What if I didn’t get hired? The alternative didn’t look good.

Vee Bar Guest Ranch

So I worked up a resume, spent hours searching the internet for ranches I wanted to apply, filled out applications and investigated how ranches tick. I’d never been to a guest ranch…I’d never really been anywhere unless it involved a barrel race. I started working out and taking care of myself and I stopped worrying about what Grandfather Time was doing to me. I couldn’t do anything about my age or being hired but I could give it my best shot, another characteristic I’m known for. The bottom line is I stuck with it. And not only did I did get hired, but before it was over I knew it was one of the best things I’d ever done. I traded an office chair for a saddle and the great outdoors. My new seat offered breathtaking views, the scent of sage, the experience of not only seeing from a new perspective but through the eyes of others as well. I traded air conditioning for Mother Nature. The majority of days were made to order. It rained several times but there’s something magical about the sound of rain on your slicker and cowboy hat.

Vee Bar Guest Ranch

I traded fine-tuned barrel horses for dude ranch mounts that surpassed my expectations. The horses on the ranch weren’t nose-to-tail plugs like I expected, but they had been around the block a time or two and were very wise. They adapted to their new riders each week by reading them well and reading them quickly. It was interesting to see the horses change depending on the skill level of their rider, and humorous seeing them come to life when a wrangler rode them. A few old reliables gained my respect and gratitude for simply doing their job without taking advantage of the novice on their back. I traded moody clients for enthusiastic people appreciative of me and what I did for them, driving in traffic every morning for rides at sunrise bringing the herd in from pasture, coworkers I never related to for staff members whose joy to be there was contagious. A good guest ranch offers big country, great horses, awesome food and wonderful people. You really can’t ask for better job conditions than that, and in my case it changed the course of the rest of my life.  I’ve heard it said if you enjoy what you’re doing it’s not work. That’s so true. I’ve noticed people who aren’t happy don’t bring that up. They don’t know what they’re missing. I didn’t know what I was missing.

Looking for seasonal work this summer?

Check out the employment ads for the following ranches. Click on their links for more information. Kitchen Work  - Hideout Ranch, AZ & Laramie River Ranch, CO Wrangler - Red Rock Ranch, WY & 4UR Ranch, CO


 

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